Instructions for Acute TMD Pain

Use anti-inflammatory medications. Over-the-counter ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin may be useful for short-term use.

Apply moist heat or cold compresses to the joint or muscles that are sore. Apply heat for 20 minutes 2 to 4 times daily. Microwave a wet towel for approximately 1 minute or until towel is warm. You can also wrap this moist hot towel around a hot water bottle to keep it warm longer. For cold compresses, use ice wrapped in a thin washcloth for 10 minutes, 4 times daily. Ice should only be applied to the painful area until numbness is experienced. Heat or ice can reduce joint or muscle pain and relax the muscles.

Eat a softer diet. Avoid hard foods, such as French bread or bagels. Avoid chewy foods, such as steak or candy. Cut fruits into small pieces and steam vegetables. Chew with your back teeth rather than biting with your front teeth. DO NOT CHEW GUM!

Keep your tongue up and teeth apart. The teeth should never be touching (except occasionally during swallowing). We suggest that you closely monitor your jaw position during the day in order to maintain a relaxed and comfortable position. This involves placing the tongue lightly on the top of your upper front teeth, allowing the teeth to come apart and relax the jaw muscles.

Avoid oral habits that put strain on the jaw muscles and joints. These include clenching, grinding (bruxism), touching, biting cheeks, tongue pushing against teeth, jaw tensing, biting objects, or other habits.

Avoid activities that involve wide or prolonged opening of the jaw (yawning, prolonged dental treatments, etc.) until the pain has been reduced.

Avoid stomach sleeping or leaning on the jaw since this puts adverse forces on the jaw and neck muscles.